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HHS sends rep to ask KCK about the holdup on Argentine fast food project

Posted at 7:52 PM, Nov 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-07 20:56:54-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent a consultant to KCK to ask the Unified Government about delays on a fast-food project that is partially funded by a HHS grant. 

"The project has moved slowly, slower than we would’ve wanted. We are now four years into a five-year grant cycle and the project is not in the ground," said Mark Weinheimer, the consultant. 

A Wendy's and Pizza Hut are supposed to be built at 21st and Metropolitan in Argentine. 

The topic has gone before the Unified Government commission six times with no action. 

"There was an investment of HHS money that was made into the project and we certainly want it to happen," Weinheimer said.

Argentine Betterment Corporation is taking on the development. 

"This could cause problems with future HHS development in Wyandotte County if we sit on this and have to give the money back," said ABC executive director Micah King.

The UG could not make anyone available to answer our questions on Wednesday. 

Of the $1.2 million HHS grant, $600,000 of that is set aside specifically for Wendy's and Pizza Hut. The rest was dedicated to Dunkin' Donuts, who recently pulled out because of the years-long delay. 

Now, the Kansas Department of Transportation needs the land through August for its 18th Street Expressway study. They might need to use the land if they expand on the highway, which leaves ABC and the development in a bind. 

The UG said recently they just found out about the delay and apologized for not checking in on the status of the land agreement, which has expired. 

The grant expires next year. 

"This should have been a done deal before we even needed to renew contracts with KDOT. From (Mayor) Holland to now, we've had so many delays and it seems like the same stuff is happening over and over again," King said. 

King said the impression he got from Weinheimer was that nothing was actually decided in the meeting with the UG. 

Now, King said they'll be making more phone calls with KDOT to decide what comes next. 

The franchises have indicated they only want the land at 21st and Metropolitan. 

The UG would need to contribute $400,000 to fill a funding gap in the project. No one on the commission has expressed an issue with that. 

"The Unified Government indicated that other neighborhoods also want the same kind of investment and gap-filling money that we are being asked to provide. I said, 'OK, the other neighborhoods then should also apply for the federal money so that there is an even playing field,'" Weinheimer said.